Party leaders from the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates have appointed the eight legislators that will serve on the newly-formed bipartisan redistricting commission tasked with redrawing the Commonwealth’s legislative and congressional lines.
The Senators on the commission will be Steve Newman (R-Bedford), Ryan McDougle (R-Hanover), George Barker (D-Fairfax County) and Mamie Locke (D-Hampton), Amigo Wade, acting director of the Virginia Division of Legislative Services, told The Virginia Star.
Appointed from the House are Delegates Delores McQuinn (D-Richmond City), Marcus Simon (D-Fairfax County), Les Adams (R-Pittsylvania County) and Margaret Ransone (R-Caroline County).
On Tuesday, Speaker of the House Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax County) and House Minority Leader Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) announced their selections through separate statements.
“Last month Virginians overwhelmingly voted in support of creating a new panel to ensure that Virginia’s legislative mapmaking process isn’t subject to political games,” Gilbert said in the statement. “To that end, I have appointed Delegates Les Adams and Margaret Ransone to the Virginia Redistricting Commission, both of whom supported the creation of the Commission throughout.
“With their combined knowledge and experience, I have no doubt they will help craft what the voters have demanded — fair maps for every Virginian.”
In her statement, Filler-Corn said: “Commissioners will need to be committed to inclusion and dedicated to a fair redistricting process that protects the vote of every Virginian,” according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
In a brief email comment sent to The Star, Ransone simply said that she is proud to serve on the redistricting commission as a representative of the House.
Simon, who was one of several House Democrats staunchly against the redistricting commission before it was approved by voters on Election Day, said he wasn’t necessarily surprised by the appointment and was excited to be one of the first legislators involved with the new process.
“I look forward to the opportunity to work on creating fair districts for Virginians,” Simon told The Star. “I think it’s valuable to be in the room where it’s going to happen and so I hope that I will be able to make a positive contribution to the process.”
Additionally, Simon said he expects there will be some contention between the legislative commissioners over what fair drawings of the districts look like.
The Star reached out to several other appointees for comment but did not get responses before press time.
Those legislators only make up half of the commission and will be joined by eight citizen members who apply for the spots. Monday was the first day for citizens interested in the commission to fill out an application online, and the deadline is December 28.
The application form and other information can be found on the Division of Legislative Services website at https://redistricting.dls.virginia.gov.
After the citizen members are selected, the commission will work to redraw the districts ahead of the 2021 elections for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and all 100 seats in the House. Yet, the body cannot begin its work before receiving population data from the 2020 U.S. Census, which is expected to be delayed until sometime in the spring.
Brian Cannon, executive director of Fair Maps VA, said if the data does not come by May then the existing district lines for the House may have to be used one more time.
Cannon also gave his thoughts on which districts are likely to be changed or adjusted by the commission.
“Assuming the Census data arrives in a reasonable time frame then I think you’re looking at a lot of the suburb districts,” Cannon told The Star. “The suburbs around Richmond and the suburbs in Hampton Roads, those are going to be redrawn and were highly competitive races this year, and I think that would only continue going forward.”
One aspect of the commission that will be of great interest is whether the body draws completely new maps or if they will work off the old lines and adjust from there. Either way, nothing can happen until well into 2021, but the commission intends to hold its first public meeting on February 1.
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Jacob Taylor is a reporter at The Virginia Star and the Star News Digital Network. Follow Jacob on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Virginia Capitol” by Skip Plitt – C’ville Photography. CC BY-SA 3.0.